Shropshire

Telford and Wrekin Council hit by foster care costs

A shortage of foster carers in Shropshire is costing Telford and Wrekin Council about £100,000 a month.

It currently buys in care from other local authorities or private agencies for a fifth of the children at an average of over £2,000 extra per child.

The council has about 140 households on its books but says it needs 100 more to cope with the increasing demand for carers in the area.

It is holding a recruitment drive at Meeting Point House on 3 December.

Councillor Paul Watling, cabinet member for children and young people, said an additional £1.4m in the 2011/12 budget to support children that need to be looked after was not an attempt to "plug a hole" that was getting bigger.

'Keep children safe'

He said: "We're trying to invest to save. We're thinking of the future and we believe fostering is one way of looking after our children properly and safely in the community.

"We're investing into the fostering side of things to save money on those expensive placements elsewhere."

Angela Yapp, who is in charge of fostering services for Telford & Wrekin, said the pressure to find suitable carers was growing with the number of children in care increasing on a national scale.

"What we're looking for is someone who can actually keep children safe from harm," she said.

"Someone who is committed to helping children develop and support them. Someone who is patient and flexible and also who has suitable accommodation."

Ms Yapp added she was confident new carers would come forward as part of next month's recruitment drive.

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